Swan Lake is a well known ballet and a centrepiece in the repertoire of many ballet troupes. It has been performed by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company on many occasions between 1991 and 2003. After 2003, Swan Lake was no longer staged at the Cairo Opera House, until 2011 when it was practically rebuilt from scratch.
With Erminia Kamel as artistic director and Abdel-Moneim Kamel as director, the ballet again saw daylight amid difficult circumstances in April 2011, being the first work performed by the company after the January 25 Revolution and following the freezing of Opera activities for over one month. At this time, the company lost many of its foreign dancers, pushing the existing — mostly Egyptian — cast to perform the iconic work based on choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
Though to many the return to Swan Lake appeared as a strange choice for audiences witnessing or participating in Egyptian revolution, Kamel saw an importance in reaching out to a classical repertoire to reassert the position of the ballet company in Egypt's arts scene.
This year, Swan Lake was planned to be performed 16-22 February but was moved to April.
On 2 February, the Cairo Opera House announced three days of mourning for the more than 70 football fans killed in Egypt's worst-ever football tragedy during a 1 February Premier League match between Ahly and Masry in Port Said. Activities across the Opera's venues were to resume Sunday 5 February. On 7 February, however, the Opera issued a new announcement stating that it had "suspended all scheduled artistic activity at all of its venues until 25 February" due to "current events," in reference to ongoing political turbulence.
"By the time Swan Lake was cancelled, the dancers, costumes and set was ready," says Kamel. "Though the decision was difficult for the dancers who had been preparing for many weeks, they were not completely discouraged and redirected their energy to preparations for a different performance during the ITB Berlin."
ITB is the world's leading travel trade show, organised annually in Berlin. Though business oriented, ITB 2012 Berlin incorporates a number of art shows for its visitors and conferences members. On 11 March, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company performed at the Delphic Festival marking the grand finale of ITB.
Upon their return to Cairo, the troupe resumed rehearsals for Swan Lake.
Swan Lake performed by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company includes two sets of soloists as well as many other dancers trained by Erminia Kamel, while trainers Lamia Zaied, Alexandra Volkoskaia, Alla Shivoliova, Irina Prokopienko work on other elements.
4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 April at 8pm
Cairo Opera Ballet Company, artistic director: Erminia Kamel, director: Abdel-Moneim Kamel
Cairo Opera Orchestra, conductor: Nayer Nagui
Cairo Opera House, Main Hall